Legal Documents You Should Have on File

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

A health care power of attorney is an essential part of your estate plan.

If you ask someone what documents they think are important for most people to have, they will say a will and a marriage license. But there are others that are important to keep on file in a safe place. Be sure your loved ones know where your important documents are kept.


Health care

  • Medical history, which includes major operations and the dates they occurred, allergies, condition, current and past medications
  • Durable health care power of attorney
  • Living will
  • Do not resuscitate order

Lifestage Documents

  • Marriage license
  • Divorce papers
  • Birth certificates

Ownership Documents

  • Deeds—these include housing, land, investment property and cemetery deeds
  • Mortgage papers, if you are still paying a mortgage
  • Prove of loans made and paid (i.e. car loans, business loans)
  • Vehicle titles
  • Partnership and corporate agreements

Financial Documents

  • Stock certificates
  • Saving bonds—either the bonds themselves or the account numbers
  • List of bank accounts, account numbers, user names and passwords if you do your banking online
  • List of online brokerage accounts
  • Tax returns for the last ten years
  • 401(k) accounts

Pension documents

  • Annuity contracts

Online Accounts

  • A list of all email usernames and passwords
  • A list of all social media accounts, usernames and passwords

Estate Documents

  • Will
  • Trust documents

These documents need to be in an easy to access place, such as a file cabinet and they need to organized in a way that the information can be retrieved when necessary. Also it isn’t enough for you to know where everything is, others in your family need to know where the important documents are.  If these documents are hither and tither, then it is time to organize them, put them in one place and let your family know where they are. Emergencies don’t come when it is convenient, so as the Boy Scouts say “Be prepared.” and I would add, “Get organized.” Source: Erickson Tribune “25 Documents You Need On File”, October 2012, Pg 2.

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